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Jesus described his mission in terms taken directly from Isaiah:

[Luk 4:19 NKJV] (19) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD."

mGNT Luke 4:19 κηρύξαι ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτόν

[Isa 61:2 NKJV] (2) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

mGNT Isaiah 61:2 καλέσαι ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτὸν καὶ ἡμέραν ἀνταποδόσεως παρακαλέσαι πάντας τοὺς πενθοῦντας

Note that Luke has "days of vengeance" while Isaiah has "days of repayment" which Isaiah has used in two other places:

[Isa 59:18 KJV] (18) According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence.

[Isa 66:6 KJV] (6) A voice of noise from the city [IE: Jerusalem], a voice from the temple, a voice of the LORD that rendereth recompence to his enemies.

He announces his mission to proclaim the acceptable day of the Lord in Luke 4:19 but it apparently isn't until chapter 21 of Luke that he announces the days (plural) of vengeance:

[Luk 21:22 CSB] (22) "because these are days of vengeance to fulfill all the things that are written.

[Luke 21:22 mGNT] (22) ὅτι ἡμέραι ἐκδικήσεως αὗταί εἰσιν τοῦ πλησθῆναι πάντα τὰ γεγραμμένα

So to what does Jesus refer in Luke 21:22? What vengeance did Jesus refer to and how long would "the days of vengeance" last?

Note: "vengeance" appears here, where God predicted long ago that he would

[Deu 32:35 CSB] (35) "Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay. In time their foot will slip, for their day of disaster is near, and their doom is coming quickly."

[Deu 32:35 LXX] (35) ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐκδικήσεως ἀνταποδώσω ἐν καιρῷ ὅταν σφαλῇ ὁ ποὺς αὐτῶν ὅτι ἐγγὺς ἡμέρα ἀπωλείας αὐτῶν καὶ πάρεστιν ἕτοιμα ὑμῗν

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Before answering your main question, I want to address whether or not Luke 21:22 and Isa 61:2 are necessarily talking about the same thing, in order to determine how much we should consider Isa 61:2 when interpreting Luke 21:22.

Is there an allusion to Isa 61:2 in Luke 21:22?

It appears that in the question, you're asserting that Jesus in Luke 21:22 is alluding to Isa 61:2. I haven't studied this in depth, but at the very least such an assertion would require some amount of evidence, especially since in contrast to Luke 4:19 where there is a clear quotation of the LXX, there is no such lexical similarity between Luke 21:22 and Isa 61:2. (By lexical similarity I mean using the same lexemes, the same words).

Compare the similarity between the NA27 text of Lk 4:18-19 and Rahlf's LXX:

Isa 61:1-2 LXX Πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾿ ἐμέ, οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με· εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς ἀπέσταλκέν με, ἰάσασθαι τοὺς συντετριμμένους τῇ καρδίᾳ, κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν, καλέσαι ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτὸν

Luke 4:18-19 πνεῦμα κυρίου ἐπ᾿ ἐμὲ οὗ εἵνεκεν ἔχρισέν με εὐαγγελίσασθαι πτωχοῖς, ἀπέσταλκέν με, κηρύξαι αἰχμαλώτοις ἄφεσιν καὶ τυφλοῖς ἀνάβλεψιν, ἀποστεῖλαι τεθραυσμένους ἐν ἀφέσει, κηρύξαι ἐνιαυτὸν κυρίου δεκτόν.

There are clear differences but enough lexical similarity (even apart from the fact that Jesus says He's quoting Isaiah) to know He's quoting Isa 61. So not to say that there needs to be 100% lexical similarity for there to be a quote or an allusion, but if there's not at least strong lexical similarity we would want to look for other indicators if we want to argue that there's an allusion or quotation happening (eg, see Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul by Hays pg 29ff for a one list of criteria to use when determining if there's an allusion or not).

So then, comparing that to the similarity (or lack thereof) of NA27 Luke 21:22 and Rahlf's LXX Isa 61:2:

Isa 61:2 ...ἡμέραν ἀνταποδόσεως...

Luke 21:22 ...ἡμέραι ἐκδικήσεως...

If it were just that one is plural and one is not, maybe there could still be an allusion. But since the word translated "vengeance" is different and even coming from different roots, I'm a bit hesitant. Even more than that, when there are only two words that are similar between two passages, we should be cautious in assuming there is an allusion being made necessarily, unless there are other factors involved (including possibly how rare those two words are, etc). Jesus might also be doing a direct translation/paraphrase of the Hebrew (which happens in other passages where we know there is an allusion), but if so we can only know there is an allusion being made from other factors.

Accordingly, I don't think we should consider a possible allusion to Isaiah 61:2 when interpreting the meaning of Luke 21:22, at least without further evidence. (Although well done keeping your eyes/ears peeled for potential allusions).

So then what events do Luke 21:22 refer to?

It seems that as far as timing goes, we have two major indicators of when these things happen:

  1. In Luke 21:20, Jerusalem's time has come near when it is surrounded by armies
  2. This time of desolation is said to endure until the times of the Gentiles has been fulfilled (NA27 ἄχρι οὗ πληρωθῶσιν καιροὶ ἐθνῶν; 21:25).

We also have to take into account that by Jesus' description, these events will "to fulfill all that is written" (21:22), which seems to indicate a weighty event in my book!

Another factor to consider is that, especially when referring to prophecy but even otherwise, I tend to see if there's an OT backdrop/context that Jesus would share with His original audience, that both of them would understand. Like Mac's Musings in this answer, I would say that some of Daniel's prophecies seem to be more in the foreground of Jesus' thought here than Isa 61, especially in light of the fact that Jesus refers to Daniel in the parallel passage in Matthew 24:15 and alludes to the same passage in Daniel in Mark 13:14. Looking at Daniel also gives a potential answer for what the "times" (plural) of the Gentiles could be referring to, since prophecies in Daniel list out a series of times where nations have dominion over Israel (first Babylon, then Persia-Media, then Greece, then Rome). In Daniel, this series of eras (or "times" as the case may be...) then culminates in the end of Jerusalem's desolation, for there comes a rock which destroys these nations, establishing Jerusalem as the capital of the Kingdom of God on earth (cf. Dan 2). This is the direction Jesus continues in as well: from the desolation of Jerusalem under Gentile reign to the end of Gentile reign whereby the kingdom of the Messiah is established; cf. Luke 21:25-28, where Jesus alludes to Dan 7:13 by referring to the "Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" which culminates in redemption for God's people.

This fits the picture that Jesus describes in Luke as well. There is desolation in Jerusalem until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled, at which point Jerusalem will no longer be desolate, exiled, or trampled underfoot by the Gentiles.

This fits the timeline presented by a number of other prophets as well, regarding the Day of the LORD. Jerusalem is exiled and under foreign rule until the Messiah returns, ends exile, and establishes his kingdom. This could explain why Jesus would say that this would "fulfill all that is written" (Lk 21:22).

So then what's the vengeance in 21:22?

I could see someone arguing it's referring to vengeance on Israel for their covenant unfaithfulness to God, perhaps particularly since they crucified their Messiah. But I could also see it referring to vengeance on both Israel and the nations, particularly since when the OT prophets talk about the Day of the LORD, it is a day of judgment against both Israel (eg Joel 2) and the nations (Obad 15). In other words, since the OT sometimes pictured God's judgment against the sin of the nations and the sin of Israel as two parts of the same coin, perhaps Jesus is doing the same thing here. (Of course, I'm begging the question of all kinds of interpretive issues related to the Day of the LORD...but there's also other examples where Israel and the nations are all pictured being judged together, eg Amos 1-2).

But how long does it all last?

Jerusalem had been likewise destroyed and exiled before by Babylon, which is what I'm arguing is the beginning of these "times of the Gentiles". As one of these times of the Gentiles, Jerusalem was under Roman reign, and would destroy Jerusalem in AD 70. These times of the Gentiles will end when the Son of Man returns in the clouds and establish His kingdom. This has still not occurred, and we see how this plays out currently, as Israel still does not have total control over the Temple mount in Jerusalem.


Notes/disclaimers:

  • Of course I recognize that there is no one single "LXX", since rather there are many Greek translations of the OT, but just using that terminology here for simplicity.
  • Again, I am not contributing as someone who has studied this passage in depth but just to add to the conversation.
  • I'm coming from a relatively conservative and Premillenial background. Not apologizing for that, but especially for a discussion like prophecy, presuppositions account for quite a bit. :)
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Luke 21:20-25 is a sad prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. In v20 Jesus alludes to the same ideas prophesied in places like Dan 9:27, 11:31, 12:11 (See Matt 24:15, Mark 13:14 where Daniel's prophecies are explicitly referenced in parallel accounts of Jesus sermon in Like 21.)

This means that Jesus' "days of vengeance" (Luke 21:22) is about a (then) future event for vengeance on disobedient Jerusalem about which Jesus wept (Matt 23:37-40).

Note that in Luke 4:18, 19, Jesus NOT quote the next phrase from Isaiah's prophecy in Isa 61:1-3 about the "DAY of vengeance" but as pointed out, discusses the DAYS of vengeance (from Daniel) as part of the prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem.

  • Looking at this verse in context, it appears that the "day of vengeance" refers to the visitation of ~70ad as well: [Isa 63:4 KJV] (4) For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. Both vengeance and the acceptable year in parallel possibly indicating that they overlap. – Ruminator Mar 28 '19 at 21:11
  • That is possibly true - the year of the Lord's favour, I argue, means the time from Jesus' initiation of the kingdom of God, the preaching of His Gospel, which extends until now. The Days of God's vengeance sits within that time when God "judged" Jerusalem in AD 70. – user25930 Mar 28 '19 at 21:32
  • I understand that that is your position but I don't see any argument to that effect. Can you please point out what evidence you cite? Thanks. – Ruminator Mar 28 '19 at 21:47
  • Luke isn't changing the context in Luke 21:20-23, you are; this was likely Luke's way of mentioning the occupation of the anti-Christ(cf. Dan 11:24-26;40-42), which he otherwise doesn't mention explicitly. – user21676 Mar 28 '19 at 23:17
  • @Ruminator - See my answer to your previous question – user25930 Mar 29 '19 at 2:58

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